Month: August 2011
Scripture: Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to a person, sovaldi sale but its end is the way to death.
Thought for the Day: There are some passages of scripture that scream joy and optimism. I love coming across those passages and allowing their undeniable cheerfulness to lift my spirit. Of course, there not every passage makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. And some, like the above passage, leave me feeling downright gloomy. I’m reminded of the old sketch on Saturday Night Live with Debbie Downer. The opening song started, “You’re enjoying your day, everything’s going your way, then along comes Debbie Downer…” Debbie Downer has the amazing ability to take any positive, joyful or happy moment and yank every ounce of life-energy out of it. I think the Proverb is attempting to offer a word of caution, yet I find it to be an embodiment of how the negative outlook of one person can drag even the most euphoric individual into the proverbial pit of pessimism. The negative person may think s/he is right, but in fact his/her way ends in death. Let’s do our best to be a people who lead others, not to death, but to life and joy.
Prayer: Provide me a spirit of joy, O Gracious Giver, so I may be an emissary of your joy in the lives of others. Amen.
Scripture: Exodus 2:11
Thought for the Day: I appreciate Moses’ willingness to stand up for his kinfolk. In fact, he took a great risk in doing so. But one of the baffling realizations for us as Christians is that we are called to see each human being as kinfolk. I would like to think I’m capable of seeing each person as family, but the sin of a judgmental attitude often springs from deep-seeded insecurities and fears. Tearing down others often feels like the only way of building up oneself. One of the approaches that has helped me overcome this rejection of my kinfolk is the realization that everyone has those deep-seeded insecurities and fears. In a sense, our common family connection is found in the human frailty shrouded within each of us. Of course admitting it before others is necessary for us to be able to find our family connection.
Prayer: You created us, O Holy God, and you know us better than we know ourselves. Help us to name those things we would rather bury from the eyes of the world. Amen.
Scripture: Genesis 2:2
And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, there and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
Thought for the Day: Someone asked me yesterday what name I wanted to be called. Anytime someone asks that question, buy I pause because too many thoughts go through my mind. She was asking if I wanted to be called “Pastor Frogge” or “The Most Reverend Bruce Frogge” (which is a little over the top). I suggested, “Bruce.” I know there are some ministers who insist on the titles, but I’m just glad people are not calling me “Pastor Dipstick” or “The Most Reverend Dipstick” or worse (or at least to my face). A name really does say a lot, and the Bible has multiple names for God. In the above passage, the Hebrew word we translate as God is Elohim. Its etymology is a bit sketchy, but its root means power or strength. This fits the storyline of the opening creation account as this transcendent God simply calls forth creation with words. But even more so, I like how this powerful otherworldly God takes time to rest from the creative work. In this week leading to Labor Day, let us be mindful of the titles we have and the work associated with them. Yet no matter how powerful or important the titles might be, let us note that no one is above the need for rest.
Prayer: For all your mighty and grace-filled acts, O Elohim, I am thankful for the example of taking rest from the work that is done. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 20:20
[Paul said, prescription ] I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house…
Thought for the Day: Is this the first example of door to door evangelism? Probably not. What we have is Paul’s commitment to meeting people where they are. The strength of the house church, of doing worship in people’s homes, was that Paul was in people’s homes. Now I know I just stated the obvious, but a person’s home says a lot about who they are. They might be a little nervous about the dust bunny under the chair, but for the most part, it creates a down to earth atmosphere where people begin speaking honestly and deeply. The formality of liturgical worship in a traditional sanctuary has its place, but something completely different begins to happen when you gather in a home around a meal. The uptight ceremonial attitudes we often bring into our religious experiences fall away and suddenly the people God created begin to show through.
Prayer: I will praise you in the sanctuary, O Lord, as well as the La-Z-Boy recliner in the home of my friends. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 9:23-24
Then Jesus said to them all, generic “If any want to become my followers, health let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, tadalafil and those who lose their life for my sake will save it…”
Thought for the Day: When you are trying to determine the original intent of a passage from either Luke or Matthew, it is always helpful to see what Mark said. We must remember that both Luke and Matthew used Mark as a starting place for their Gospels, and when there is a difference, we should pay attention. Luke adds a single word to how Mark’s Gospel recorded the above thought. The word is ‘daily’. Mark’s Gospel was written shortly after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, and persecution under the Roman Empire was a constant happening. Both Jews and Christians were having their faith challenged daily. The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, was written in a different context. It was a time of relative calm for followers of Jesus, and such a context can easily lead to complacency. The addition of the word ‘daily’ awakens the reader, reminding her/him that discipleship may not always require the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life in a single event, but it still requires the ongoing and exhaustive giving of self. Those of us who are attempting to live faithfully in America should probably read Luke’s version and allow our faith to be awakened to this slightly modified yet no less radical call of discipleship.
Prayer: O Seeker of the complacent, awaken me again to the opportunities I have to serve you this day…this hour…this moment. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 20:24
[Paul said,] But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.
Thought for the Day: I passed a guy not long ago down on 5th Avenue who was asking everyone, “Do you have a testimony about the Lord?” Most folks just rolled their eyes as they turned the other way, but shouldn’t Christians have a testimony? Paul had a testimony to the good news of God’s grace, and though he often did it through his preaching, I think his relentless work and tireless travels were the real testimony. The Greek word for testimony is: diamarturomai, and it means to give convincing evidence. I’ve listened to a lot of people rattle off convincing arguments on one subject or another, but then I watched them live in a way that entirely undermined what they had just said. When people wanted a testimony from Jesus, he usually said, “Follow me.” In the end, what he did inspires and moves us more than what he said.
Prayer: Thank you, Gracious God, for all those who have provided me a living testimony to your ways of grace, goodness and justice. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 5:41-42
As they [the Apostles] left the council, generic they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
Thought for the Day: Today’s scripture is the same as yesterday’s, capsule but I want to focus on the second verse and how the Apostles continued to teach and proclaim despite what the authorities had said and done to them. It says they taught and proclaimed “Jesus as the Messiah.” In their book, viagra The People’s New Testament Commentary, Eugene Boring and Fred Craddock call into question the translation of those words. “A more accurate translation,” they write, “would be ‘that the Messiah is Jesus.’” Now some people might say, “Oh, that’s just semantics,” but I think that would ignore where the emphasis exists in the phrase. The passage is less interested in having the reader ask ‘who is Jesus?’ and more concerned about discovering what it means to say ‘the Messiah is Jesus!‘ All of a sudden we need to find out who or what the Messiah is. The word Messiah, according to Acts, describes the one who will come again at the ‘times of refreshing’ when all things will be restored (3:19-20). To claim the Messiah is Jesus is to declare that the times of refreshing have already begun, and we (those who follow the ways of the Messiah) are not simply watching this happen, but are full participants in restoring creation to wholeness
Prayer: God, continue to reinvigorate, remodel and rehabilitate this fractured world you love so much, and anywhere I can help, call me to do so. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 5:41-42
As they [the Apostles] left the council, cialis they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.
Thought for the Day: These Apostles had just been beaten and told by the authorities to never speak in the name of Jesus again. As they were released, their response to the beating appeared a bit odd as they rejoiced, not in their release, but in the opportunity to suffer for the sake of Christ. It is difficult to explain how suffering, even for an amazing cause, is worthy of celebration. Though I remember returning home from a mission trip with ten high school students. As we climbed out of the van and were greeted by parents, the exhausted group got some renewed energy as they began to showoff their bruises, blisters and abrasions. These wounds were symbols of faithful acts done miles away, and though parents and friends were unable to see exactly what was accomplished, they were able to appreciate the faithful effort given on behalf of Christ’s body, the church. Before climbing into cars to go home, the kids all formed a circle and took a picture of their torn-up hands. They later put it on the youth bulletin board with the caption, “We never felt so good!”
Prayer: O Kind and Gentle God, you invite us to act faithfully even when embodiment of the Gospel will require hardship and distress. Allow me to clearly see how my humble acts of service will celebrate you and add to the realization of your reign. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 16:9-10
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
Thought for the Day: Paul is called in a dream to go and preach the good news (the Gospel), and like Paul, there are many people today who find their hearts convicted to give voice to the good news. We celebrate this passion, but sensing the call and knowing what one is to say upon arriving are two very different things. We toss around ‘the good news’ as if there is a single definition, but there is clearly not. Brian McLaren wrote on his blog, “…the question is, ‘What is the gospel?’ Many of us inherited an ‘evacuation gospel.’ The gospel was the good news that the Titanic is sinking, but we know how to get on the lifeboats. As you know from reading my books, I now think that is a distortion of the gospel. I now believe the gospel is that God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, and you can be part of it.” Brian offers us a radically different understanding of the Gospel, but I think it fits with what Paul ends up doing in Macedonia. Paul never shouted, “Abandon ship!” He helped people find wholeness who were then able to help others find wholeness.
Prayer: Holy and Merciful Creator, you put before me a vision of what needs to be done, and then you invite me to be part of making the vision come to fruition. Assist me as I find a place in the here and now where I can help make the here and now a little more like your realm which is to come. Amen.
Scripture: Acts 21:8
Thought for the Day: I imagine that Philip had a fairly large business card, so he could include every title and description attached to his name. Among his appointed tasks was that of deacon, but after Stephen’s martyrdom, he eventually took on the new title of “evangelist”. As deacon, he was charged with providing material needs to the weak and marginalized. As evangelist, he helped to bring a man named Simon and an unnamed Ethiopian eunuch to faith. Many might see the move from deacon to evangelist as a promotion, or maybe a move from a blue collar to more of a white collar job. I wonder if there was really no separation, only our attempts (and that of the Biblical writers) to explain Philip’s ministry which was about responding to people’s needs only after he took the time to know them. There will be days when people will need the tangible compassion of a deacon, and other days when those same folks will need the good word of an evangelist. I don’t think it was an either-or for Philip, and it probably shouldn’t be for us.
Prayer: Give me the awareness of Philip, O Gracious God, so I might respond to the needs of those I meet. Amen.